Monday, April 14, 2014

USCIS April Processing Time Reports

From Council for Global Immigration, 04/10/2014

On April 3, 2014, USCIS issued updated processing time reports as of February 28, 2014 for the Vermont Service Center (VSC), California Service Center (CSC), Texas Service Center (TSC), Nebraska Service Center (NSC) and the National Benefits Center (NBC).

As USCIS is beginning to process H-1B cap cases, the agency is reporting that all H-1Bs filed before cap cases arrived are being processed in 2 months at both CSC and VSC.  This should not be taken as any indication of how quickly cap cases will be processed – we expect that processing times will be similar to last year for cap cases.

Processing has picked up considerably for Ls at VSC, but there is still a small delay.  The processing date advanced from August 28, 2013 in the March report to January 16, 2014 in the April report.  This is still a processing time of one and a half months for Ls at VSC, but that is a considerable improvement over the prior processing time of over five months.  Blanket Ls continue to be processed in two months at VSC.  CSC continues to process standard L visas in one month and Blanket Ls in two months.

At NSC, the processing date for EB-1 extraordinary ability petitions, EB-2 petitions and EB-3 petitions advanced exactly one month to October 2, 2013 for a processing time of almost five months. The processing date for EB-1 multinational managers and executives also advanced exactly one month to September 2, 2013 for a processing time of almost six months. The processing time for EB-1 outstanding professors and researchers is four months.  Adjustments of status at NSC continue to be processed in 4 months.

All I-140s at TSC continue to be processed in 4 months.  However, employment based adjustments of status at TSC continue to lag with a processing date of September 7, 2013 - a processing time of nearly 6 months.

NBC continues to process I-765 employment authorization applications in 3 months.

Please click here to access the processing times for the VSC, CSC, TSC, NSC, and the NBC.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Proposed Rules on Work Authorization for Certain H-1B Dependents and Others Expected to Advance

From Fragomen.com, 04/10/2014


Two highly anticipated proposed regulations will soon advance to the next stage of the federal regulatory process, the White House announced earlier this week. The rules seek to allow H-4 dependents of certain H-1B foreign nationals to seek work authorization and to extend the work authorization of E-3 and H-1B1 employees awaiting the approval of a timely-filed extension petition. 

The draft H-4 rule is expected to propose eligibility for employment authorization for the dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who are beneficiaries of extensions past their six-year time limit. Post-6th year extensions are available in certain circumstances to H-1B employees with long-pending employment-based permanent residence sponsorship cases. Under current law, H-4 foreign nationals are not eligible to apply for employment authorization pursuant to their nonimmigrant status. 

A separate rule is expected to extend employment authorization for 240 days beyond the period specified on an E-3 or H-1B1 nonimmigrant’s Form I-94 arrival record, as long as the foreign national is the beneficiary of a timely application to extend status filed by the same employer. Under current rules, this 240-day extension is available to qualifying H-1B, L-1 and certain other nonimmigrants, but not to E-3s or H-1B1s. 

Both proposals have been pending at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for several months. Once they initially clear OMB, they will be published as Notices of Proposed Rulemaking with a public comment period of at least 30 days and additional time for DHS to consider comments. The rules will not be implemented until after they receive final approval from OMB -- a process that could take several months or more for each rule. 

The exact contents of the two proposed rules will remain confidential until they are published in the Federal Register. Abstracts of the H-4 and 240-day extension of employment authorization proposed rules are available at the OMB website. 

The proposals are part of the Obama Administration’s Startup America Initiative, which was begun in 2011 and includes plans to implement administrative reforms at the Department of Homeland Security to attract and retain highly skilled foreign nationals

What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals 
If implemented, the rules would give some – but by no means all – spouses of H-1B employees the opportunity to work in the United States and would help E-3 and H-1B1 employees avoid work interruption when an application for an extension of stay is pending past their initial period of stay in the United States. 

May 2014 Visa Bulletin

No Movement in EB-3 Worldwide and China Cut-Off; Modest Advancements for EB-3 India and EB-2 China

According to the State Department’s May Visa Bulletin, the priority date cut-off for the EB-3 subcategory for professionals and skilled workers will remain at October 1, 2012 for China and most other countries. EB-3 India will advance by two weeks, to October 1, 2003. 

The priority date cut-off for EB-2 China will advance by five weeks to April 15, 2009 next month, but EB-2 India will remain unchanged at November 15, 2004. 

May 2014 Priority Date Cut-Offs 
In May 2014, EB immigrant visa priority date cut-offs will be: 

EB-1 Current for all countries. 

EB-2 China: April 15, 2009 
India: November 15, 2004 
All other countries: Current 

EB-3 Professionals and Skilled Workers China: October 1, 2012 
India: October 1, 2003 
Philippines: November 1, 2007 
All other countries: October 1, 2012 

EB-3 Other Workers China: October 1, 2012 
India: October 1, 2003 
Philippines: November 1, 2007 
All other countries: October 1, 2012 

EB-5 Current for all countries and subcategories.